Sabres hire Dan Bylsma as new head coach
The Buffalo Sabres formally introduced Dan Bylsma as their new head coach Thursday afternoon inside First Niagara Center. The hiring was confirmed in a late afternoon news conference, during which Bylsma and Sabres general manager Tim Murray answered questions from local media.
Bylsma's previous National Hockey League coaching experience includes six seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He won the Jack Adams Trophy in 2011 as the NHL's most outstanding coach.
"I think his record as an NHL coach speaks for itself," said Murray. "High winning percentage, a lot of wins in a short period of time. A great communicator. Obviously we're going to be a young team, and we need somebody who knows how to teach and knows how to communicate."
Bylsma worked with young talents, including star players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, with the Penguins. In his first year with that team, when he was hired midway through the 2008-09 season, Bylsma led the team from being out of playoff contention with 25 games remaining in the regular season all the way to the Stanley Cup championship.
He now looks forward to working with the young talents on the Buffalo Sabres, who have finished dead last for two consecutive seasons, and steering them back into playoff contention.
"I think there is a bright future ahead for this team," said Bylsma. "A lot of great young hockey players, here and on the way to the Buffalo Sabres organization."
Among the young talents highly expected to be among Bylsma's players next season is Jack Eichel, the Boston University standout who is the anticipated second-overall pick in next month's National Hockey League entry draft. That pick is held by the Sabres.
In addition to being an NHL coach, Bylsma is a former NHL player, playing parts of nine seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. He chronicled his winding road to the NHL in a book co-authored with his father, Jay, titled So Your Son Wants To Play in the NHL, published in 1998.
Although he was dismissed by the Penguins in a front office shakeup after the 2013-14 NHL season, he remained under contract with the Penguins as the Sabres hired him. Thus, the Sabres owe the Penguins compensation and will give Pittsburgh a third-round pick in the 2016 player entry draft.